Virginia Department of Health and VCU partner to launch an opioid cost calculator – VCU News

By Virginia Department of Health staff

The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health collaborated on the development of an opioid cost calculator. The calculator presents cost estimates of how much the opioid epidemic impacts Virginians in multiple categories: lost labor, health care, crime, household costs, state costs and federal costs.

The data from the calculator paints a more complete picture of the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic in Virginia. It will also be useful in supporting ongoing efforts for prevention and reduction activities at the state and local levels, and in moving toward large-scale systemic change.

“Understanding the impact of opioid addiction is a crucial step,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD “With this understanding, we move closer to change that will help reduce and prevent opioid-related addiction, injury, and death.”

“The staggering costs associated with the opioid crisis in Virginia underscores the value of a comprehensive strategy that combines downstream interventions (eg, emergency care for overdoses, addiction counseling) with upstream efforts (eg, economic relief to distressed communities, stronger social services and support systems for those in need) to ease the conditions that fuel drug use,” said Derek Chapman, Ph.D., interim director of the VCU Center on Society and Health.

A graphic shows the economic costs of the opioid epidemic in Virginia by sector and by payer. (Virginia Department of Health/VCU Center on Society and Health)

In 2020, an average of more than four Virginians died of an opioid drug overdose every day. The cost calculator shows that the overall cost of the epidemic in 2020 was $3.5 billion. The cost calculator not only shows the overall cost of the epidemic in Virginia in total dollars, but also broken down by sector (labor, health care, crime), payer (households, state/local government, federal government) and locality (counties and independent cities).

Additionally, this data is also available in easy-to-use data visualizations and downloadable reports and data tables.

This project was funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Overdose Data to Action initiative to prevent and reduce drug overdose deaths in Virginia through a series of surveillance and prevention strategies.

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